LOANHOOD is a fashion rental app that launched in 2021 with the mission to build a community of conscious fashion enthusiasts who lend out items of clothing, and rent from like-minded others. Their ethos is to inspire a sustainable fashion revolution bolstering the circular economy with an approach they are calling “fast fashion done right”.
Customers are broadly Gen Z’ers with an ever-evolving style, but who don't want to contribute to the waste that fast fashion perpetuates. Unlike other fashion rental companies such as Rent the Runway, their community model means there is no centralized store. The first goal was to launch a fully functional minimum viable product, which a small user base could test. The iOS and Android app then launched in November to coincide with the Christmas period.
A survey by Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that retail consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about the environmental impact of clothing. 61% of UK respondents reported being interested in new clothing business models such as rental, branded preloved ranges, repair services and voucher takebacks.
Overall the UK retail industry stagnated during Covid-19, with clothing retail sales volumes falling by 21.5% in 2020, compared with 2019; the most significant annual fall on record.
However, the rental market is seeing growth and is expected to reach £1.5 billion by 2025, up 65% from 2019. According to WRAP, the conscious consumer wants more sustainable alternatives to buying clothing, with about £140 million worth of used clothing sent to landfills in the UK every year. Even iconic stores like London’s Harrods and Selfridges are now offering fashion rental services.
The founders were not satisfied with the digital experience and how the original designs were translated into the native application. LOANHOOD worked with an offshore software development agency until Summer 2021; this was the point where ON was engaged. We find a common pain point for clients when using freelancer developers or offshore teams is that the UX/UI elements can be neglected focusing on function without a consideration for form. The first step is to complete a heuristic evaluation of the existing experience to ensure that the MVP meets the needs of the early users. At this point, we need to take a pragmatic approach that not all issues can be solved, and we start creating a product roadmap for future releases.
The peer-to-peer nature brings about unique operational challenges, the need to market to two different types of audiences (borrowers and loaners); the messaging is central to the app and has to work fluidly. Then, the community management platform has to be watertight, ensuring that issues are resolved first time to keep the users engaged with the platform.
The LOANHOOD team already had a well-evolved product and marketing strategy that we uncovered during our Discovery sessions. The real challenge was formulating a plan to develop an application that met the MVP scope within the tight time frames, whilst ensuring that the underlying platform could scale quickly and be used as a foundation for future releases.
This isn't a project with a clear start and end. We will be working with LOANHOOD on a long-term basis to support various projects that propel the company's growth.
We believe in continuous iteration and improvement of our products. We know we need to meet strict standards to be accepted on the App Store. Still, beyond that, with the unique challenges this project presented, we want to make sure the experience is as intuitive and enjoyable as possible. We'll be working with the early users of the app, responding to feedback and making improvements.
The nature of LOANHOOD and the broader ESG movement is that it is all about community, which meant the focus on engagement had to be on in-person events. This led to various collaborations within the circular economy ecosystem and with Oxfam for their #SecondhandSeptember campaign.
The long term partnership with LOANHOOD is about making a fundamental change around consumption and offering viable alternatives to consumers via digital experiences: